An open letter from Mark Goldring, Chief Executive, Oxfam GB
14 February 2018
I'm writing to you today heartbroken about the devastating stories you will have seen in the news, reporting the sexual misconduct of some former Oxfam employees in Haiti in 2011 and Chad from 2006.
I know that this apology is by no means enough but I want to offer it unreservedly to our supporters, volunteers, staff and the people of Haiti and Chad for the things that happened in our name. I am so sorry.
I can't overstate what a massive blow this week has been to our mission to help people around the world. I am also greatly saddened by the resignation of Penny Lawrence our Deputy Director. She is appalled that these events happened on her watch and recognised it was only right to stand down. Penny has dedicated her life to the fight against poverty and is a huge loss to all of us.
I feel great responsibility for the trust that you all - as supporters, shoppers, staff and volunteers - place in Oxfam and I know that these devastating reports will have damaged that trust. All I can say is that we are working to rebuild that trust.
Along with our Chair of Trustees Caroline Thomson, I have already met with the Secretary of State for Development and was able to update her on the significant improvements we have already made since 2011. We are also committed to developing a more comprehensive package of measures, including:
- Establishing a stronger and independent confidential 'whistleblowing' line to ensure that we do all we can to prevent sexual abuse and misconduct happening in the first place.
- Strengthening the vetting of staff, including making safeguarding a mandatory part of the recruitment process for senior leadership positions.
- Revisiting improvements already made and learn additional lessons from Haiti 2011.
We will be working closely with the Department for International Development (DfID) and the Charity Commission to make sure we do everything in our power to protect the people we serve around the world.
You will also have seen reports of sexual misconduct in our UK shops dating from before 2014/15. These were among cases identified through our whistleblowing procedure, which were dealt with at the time. Since then we have introduced a whole range of more robust measures to improve how we deal with these issues. Today, our shops are a safe place for staff and volunteers alike.
The coming weeks and months will be among the hardest in Oxfam's history. Please know that we will learn from this. And please also know that this organisation is still full of amazing, brave, committed staff and volunteers who are making remarkable life-saving, life-changing work happen in desperate situations. Just last month I saw first-hand our vital response to the Rohingya crisis in Bangladesh. I think of the unfolding disaster in DR Congo where dedicated Oxfam teams are getting clean drinking water to people without thought for their own personal safety. The ongoing
conflict in Yemen where we are reaching people with much needed food. Our relentless campaigning to break down the barriers that keep people poor. This work continues and, with your support, we won't stop fighting poverty and suffering wherever it exists.
Once again, I offer my apologies to you all.
Thank you for your support.
Chief Executive, Oxfam GB